August 28, 2008

Afghan Battalion Embedded Training Team mobilizes for duty

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

A team of Virginia National Guard Soldiers departed Fort Pickett Aug. 18 headed for Fort Riley, Kan., to begin training for the deployment to Afghanistan as an embedded training team. The team of 16 Soldiers will work with a battalion of approximately 500 Afghan soldiers. Virginia will also deploy another team to work with an Afghan National Army brigade of approximately 1,500 Soldiers in early September.

“The Brigade and Battalion ETTs will provide training and mentoring to the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police in order to continue to stabilize the police and military forces in Afghanistan,” said Maj. Mike Martin of Afton, the senior mentor of the battalion team. “Soldiers will provide mentoring to their Afghan counterparts in logistics, tactics, strategic planning, military decision-making process, and battalion and brigade level staff operations. The trainers will be embedded with Afghan counterparts and will live, train and fight alongside them.”

The team will train at Fort Riley until late October or early November and then deploy to Afghanistan.

“This is probably going to be one of the most challenging assignments you will ever have,” Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia told the team before their departure. “We will all be looking after you loved ones back here while you are looking after your mission. You will be supported by your fellow Soldiers back here in Virginia to the utmost of our ability.”

Newman stressed the importance of the mission to the future stability of Afghanistan. “You have a chance to change history with what you are doing,” he said. “The mission you will do will add stability and help their government rule in a democratic and free way. It is a long road, but you going to laying an important foundation.”

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